Animal Treasure Island - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B-
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B-
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: All
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Discotek
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 78
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Animal Treasure Island

Animal Treasure Island

By Chris Beveridge     November 10, 2005
Release Date: November 15, 2005


Animal Treasure Island
© Discotek


What They Say
Based on the classic novel "Treasure Island" by Robert L. Stevenson.

Jim and his mouse friend Gran toll away working as innkeepers. They dream of sailing far away on their own boat. One day, a mysterious fellow appears at the inn and gives them a map. It's the map to Treasure Island. So they decide to make their own boat, and sail away treasure hunting. But it's not as easy as they think when the run into a group of unsavory pirates led by the dastardly Captain Silver. Silver wants the treasure for himself, and it is up to Jim, Gran, and their new friend Kathy, to beat him to it.

The Review!
An animal based take on the classic tale, Jim Hawkins has his adventures as he seeks out the Treasure Island and its riches.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this movie in its English language adaptation. Both tracks are presented in a 2.0 mix which is essentially a strong full sounding center channel based piece that doesn't really have much in noticeable directionality to it. The English track starts off a bit weak with some balance issues during the opening song but that tapers off once the dialogue portion of the movie begins. It does have some scratchiness and muffled moments here and there as it does show its age. The Japanese track appears to be cleaner though with no noticeable issues during regular playback.

Video:
Originally released to theaters in 1971, the transfer for this film is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Toei did a twentieth anniversary release of the film so the source materials for this were greatly cleaned up and presumably restored as the transfer here looks fantastic for its age. While the animation and designs are fairly simple for the most part, the clean lines and bright strong colors are great here and its free of just about all the usual problems you might associate with something like this such as aliasing of break-up in the backgrounds. The transfer for this is just solid overall and has certainly receive some great treatment both in Japan and here for a film that's almost thirty-five years old.

Packaging:
The cover artwork for this release has a much happier and positive feel to it than the more adventurous Japanese cover where there are characters with swords fighting each other and some peril in their stances. Here, we get Jim standing happing with his captains hat and jacket while the rest of the good guys are behind him and the background is filled with the ships and the numerous pirates that fill the show. The lack of Silver here is pretty strong but the feel that they're going for isn't the same as how the Japanese release was trying to push it. The artwork is definitely simple and flat but it gives an idea of what to expect. The back cover is simple but well laid out with the summary of the premise that takes up the top third while the middle strip has a few shots from the film that are cropped. The bottom third provides for some voice actor and staff credits (Though it strangely lists Kathy as Cathy) and a solid technical grid that makes it clear exactly what's on the release. No insert is included with the release but the keepcase is clear and the reverse side is done up as a treasure map with the left panel showing the chapter list.

Menu:
The menu layout for the release is simple and in the same style as the front cover as it shows a shot of the ocean and another ship in the background from the deck of one of the ships. Selections are lined along the bottom with a little ship used as the selector moving across. The trailers menu is a bit clunky in that there's some cursor animation of the chest opening and closing that makes it slow to move up and down but the overall impact is cute. Access times are nice and fast and the layout is straightforward. Our players' presets were read correctly but with the slates in the first position we had to manually change the subtitle selection.

Extras:
The only included extra is a couple of original trailers for the film.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Animal Treasure Island is a release that has been seemingly lost for some time that a lot of people in my age range grew up seeing. Released in 1971 and dubbed into English not long afterwards for European release, it takes the classic tale and makes some of the usual minor deviations but is overall faithful to the main storyline while changing out most of the characters for animal versions.

Treasure Island is based around the character of young Jim Hawkins, a boy who ends up on a grand adventure when a pirate stumbles into the inn he's working at and entrusts him to hide a case that has a treasure map inside. The arrival of some other nasty pirates that have come to kill him causes Jim and his faithful friend Gran the mouse to escape from the inn and set out to get the treasure themselves. Their journey isn't quite problem free as the first thing that happens is that the baby Baboo ends up sneaking on board so they have to take care of him and before they know it they're captured by Captain Silver, one of the more notorious pirate captains of the seas.

Jim's attempts to escape as they arrive on Pirate Island leads him to meet up with a young woman named Kathy who is the granddaughter of Captain Flint, the man who has hidden a massive treasure that's to be found where X marks the spot on the map. The two certainly don't get along together at all and they find themselves working together in order to survive and retrieve the map from Captain Silver and make their own way to get the treasure. There's treachery, double crosses and plenty of eager pirates wanting to grab the map and the treasure for their own glory along the way.

Animal Treasure Island was directed by Hiroshi Ikeda who only has a few movies to his credits overall and only one more after this before he stopped but what's made this movie a bit more sought after over the years is that it's one of a number of projects that Hayao Miyazaki was involved in. He worked as a key animator for it as well as a story consultant and you can see some of his influences here. A lot of the scenes that seemed strong reminded me of his work on Sherlock Hound, something that the film has a definitely feel for. Another element to the film that has a bit of allure for me comes in the voice actress for the tiny mouse Gran as it turned out to be Eiko Masuyama who went on to become the voice for Fujiko Mine in the Lupin the 3rd franchise.

Having not seen the film before, though having read and seen many variations of the story, we watched it in English as my five year old is staying up later with us so she's seeing more of what we watch. The story is completely new to her but the entire film kept her attention the whole time, though in the end she just claimed that the film was "wild crazy." The use of the animals obviously kept her attention but it was good to see her having no issues with a show where the characters are sneaky and evil up front as they hunt down the first pirate and the elements of danger didn't mess with her. I've seen a number of kids watch shows similar to this at her age and just become scared or actually crying at times which just boggles me. While I doubt that the movie will be a major draw for kids today due to its age and a very amusingly bad dub that shows just how far we've come in the dubbing industry, it's something that's perfectly suited for the age group.

In Summary:
Discotek has done a fantastic job with this release overall and the fact that it's not a massively cropped release is huge. So many times the kids shows like this get so badly treated that to see a near reverential treatment just brings the quality level up so much more. The transfer is gorgeous, we get both language tracks and a solid translation. The only thing that's missing is a translated credits scroll and any sort of information about the English language production but when it comes to anime films that are as old as I am, I'm not surprised that such information is practically impossible to find. This film is probably aimed more at people in my age group and those of us with kids rather than the "modern day" anime fan but this is just solid through and through and should be on most people's shelves. Very recommended.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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